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Support your local farmers urges young Cornish Fixer

A young Cornish ‘Fixer’ is campaigning to make people realise that farming is not all straw hats and hay bales, but actually a very unforgiving industry.

Lorna Keight

Lorna Keight

Lorna Keight, 22, lives with her partner on his farm near Liskeard, and says long hours, unpredictable weather and the poor economic climate all add to the pressure on British farmers, who are subject to a disproportionately high suicide rate, according to the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution.

She believes that if people had a greater understanding of the industry, it would encourage people to support their local farmers by buying local produce.

Now working with Fixers, a charity which supports young people to ‘fix’ the future, Lorna is launching a poster campaign across the West Country to encourage the British public to help to keep their regional farms in business.

For hotel receptionist Lorna, who born and grew up in Plymouth, seeing life on the farm first-hand has been an enlightening experience.

“Before I met Tom I thought farming was just an easy job,” said Lorna. “I thought they all had days off in the summer in the sun. It seemed like a really nice lifestyle, and it is, but I had no idea just how much hard work does go into it. It has really shocked me and I want to open the eyes of the British public as well.”

Her partner Tom Maddever, 30, is the third generation to work the land at his family farm at Doddycross on the outskirts of Menheniot.

Tom Maddever & Lorna Keight

Tom Maddever & Lorna Keight

“One of the biggest challenges we face is the weather,” he said. “You are also very much tied to the farm. Having livestock means you have to work 365 days a year to make sure they are all fed and watered. In terms of the financial side of things, you are never going to become extremely wealthy from farming but I don’t worry about that because it’s a good way of life that I enjoy.”

Lorna’s Fixers campaign will be the subject of a broadcast on ITV News West Country on Thursday, August 8 from 6pm.

Pam Wills, South West manager of the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Association, said: “According to recent government statistics, one in four farming families are current living on or below the national poverty line. That is an awful lot of farmers who are really struggling out there with their families.

“The farming industry is a great industry to be in, and there is a great future to it, but when things aren’t going so well – especially for farmers living in remote rural areas – they can suffer from isolation and loneliness, and often struggle on their own to make ends meet”

She added: “The suicide rate amongst farmers is high compared to other industries. I think a lot of that is due to the isolation they face.”

Lorna’s thought provoking ‘Food for Thought’ posters are due to appear across the West Country soon.

Fixers is a charity which supports thousands of young people across the UK to take action and change things for the better, addressing any issue they feel strongly about.

How each Fixer tackles an issue is up to them – as long as they benefit someone else.

The award-winning Fixers project has already supported around 8,700 young people across the UK to have an authentic voice in their community.

Now, thanks to funding from the Big Lottery, Fixers aims to work with a further 20,000 young people over the next three years.

“Fixers started in 2008 as just an idea… an idea given a voice by some 8,700 young people over the past five years,” says Margo Horsley, Chief Executive of Fixers.

“They have reached thousands of people with their work, on a national stage as well as in and around where they live. They choose the full array of social and health issues facing society today and set about making their mark. Fixers are always courageous and their ideas can be challenging and life-changing, not just for themselves.”

Peter Ainsworth, Big Lottery Fund UK Chair, said: “The Big Lottery Fund is extremely proud to be supporting Fixers to engage with more young people to change things for the better. Fixers has a tremendous potential – one young person’s initial idea can be transformed into reality, spread across a community and make a positive influence on a wide range of people. There are thousands of young people campaigning to make improvements in their neighbourhoods and Fixers provides a platform to highlight their voluntary work and many achievements.”

 

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